The Denver Foundation and our fundholders have long invested in solutions to address social change through grantmaking. As articulated in our new Strategic Framework, The Denver Foundation is developing a broad strategy to guide our work in public policy and advocacy and deepen our commitment to a stronger, healthy, equitable Metro Denver through systemic change. As one key element of this strategy: We analyze issues that come before voters, engaging on those that align with (or depart from) our mission, vision, and values. We will also provide updates on initiatives we support, such as ballot measures and their outcomes.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the November 2021 coordinated election, which culminated on November 2:
Roughly 1.5 million Coloradans voted. Of those, an estimated 858,000 votes were cast in the seven-county Metro Denver area, a 40% turn-out rate.
Denver voters were aligned with The Denver Foundation’s positions on several ballot measures. They approved new and existing investments and policy changes that will help address critical issues in Denver such as housing, transportation, and the environment and climate, among others. Below is a breakdown of the election results on each ballot measure and its impacts.
- Endorsed by The Denver Foundation, approved by voters. Denver Referred* Question 2B: Denver Housing and Sheltering Systems Bonds. This initiative will provide for repairs and improvements to Denver’s housing and sheltering system, expanding the availability of emergency shelter for those experiencing homelessness.
- Endorsed by The Denver Foundation, approved by voters. Denver Referred Question 2C: Denver Transportation and Mobility System Bonds: This ballot measure provides for investments in bike and pedestrian projects, road reconstruction, and safety improvements across Denver’s transportation systems.
- Endorsed by The Denver Foundation, approved by voters. Denver Referred Question 2D: Denver Parks and Recreation System Bonds: This initiative will provide for investments in parks and recreation projects including the development of two new parks in Northeast and South Denver, allowing more broad and equitable access to Denver’s park system.
- Opposed by The Denver Foundation, rejected by voters. Denver Referred Question 2F: Repeal of Group Living Housing Ordinance: This initiative would have repealed an ordinance that allows for five unrelated adults to live together, eases regulations and zoning requirements for residential care facilities, and allows more opportunities to support the elderly, unhoused, and returning citizens. As a result of maintaining this policy, those living and working in Denver will have more affordable housing options.
- Opposed by The Denver Foundation, rejected by voters: Denver Initiated** Ordinance 304: Limit Sales and Use Tax: This initiative would have lowered Denver’s sales and use tax rate from 4.81% to 4.5% and capped the overall sales tax rate at 4.5%. As a result of maintaining the current sales tax rate, programs addressing climate change, mental health services, and scholarships will continue to have the resources needed to invest in this work.
There is much work ahead in 2022. As a community, we must work together to implement the policies approved by voters in November and continue addressing issues that were not raised in this election. The 2022 election cycle is likely to be active, with many elected officials facing reelection and many policy issues coming before voters. The Denver Foundation will keep you apprised of the implementation of policy supported and new policy opportunities, especially as we launch our policy framework in 2022.
In the meantime, please reach out to me with any questions on the 2021 election cycle. You can email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For an overview of all outcomes from the election, visit the Colorado Secretary of State website by clicking this link.
Colorado Public Radio: https://election.cpr.org/
Colorado Chalkbeat (School Board Elections): https://co.chalkbeat.org/colorado-votes-2021
Colorado Sun: https://coloradosun.com/tag/election-2021/
*A referred question is a ballot measure that appears on the ballot due to a vote of the lawmakers, such as the City Council or State Legislature.
** An initiated ordinance is an ordinance that originated through the collection of signatures to place the proposed ordinance on the ballot.